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Which parts of Minnesota are in line for the most snow, and when it will start

More than a foot of snow is possible.

Enjoy the snowless streets for now, because winter returns for southern Minnesota in a few hours.

Meteorologists have gotten a better idea of where the heaviest snow will fall – and we're talking 12-15 inches, with amounts up to 18 inches possible.

If you live either along or south of a line that stretches from Fairmont to Red Wing, get your shovels ready, the National Weather Service said Thursday. That includes the cities of Albert Lea, Faribault, Red Wing, Rochester and Owatonna.

That area – and west of it – is under a blizzard warning. In the blizzard warning area (the red on the map below), people could see wind gusts of up to 40 mph, which could lead to "significant blowing and drifting" snow – so be prepared for the morning and evening commutes on Friday. (Check the latest road conditions here.)

The pink on the map, which includes the southern and eastern metro area, is under a winter storm warning – expect plenty of snow, but not as much wind.

Just north of the red and pink warning areas, there's a purple area that includes Minneapolis and St. Paul – this area has been downgraded to winter weather advisory from a winter storm watch, meaning there will probably be less snow than what was forecast earlier Thursday.

In those regions, there's expected to be a pretty tight gradient for how much snow is expected. Cities and towns that are close together might see vastly different snow totals. (There's a map here if you want a visual.)

The area of the Twin Cities that's under the winter storm warning could see about a half-foot of snow, while just north of that (the area under the winter weather advisory) will probably only get 2-4 inches of snow, this National Weather Service "most likely snowfall" map shows.

When will it start snowing?

Rain will move into the area that's north of Interstate 90 Thursday evening, and will change over from a wintry mix to snow overnight, the National Weather Service in La Crosse says.

In the blizzard warning area – so most of far southern Minnesota – heavy snow is expected to develop between 8 and 10 p.m. Thursday, with increasing winds on Friday. The heavy stuff will move in quickly between 10 p.m. and midnight for the winter storm warning area (the south and east metro).

As for the rest of the Twin Cities, snow will start falling there between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.

Heavy snow is expected to continue into Friday evening across most of southern Minnesota.

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