Winter Solstice: Sleet, wintry mix for shortest day of the year

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Sunday marks the first day of winter – and the shortest day of the year.

Although meteorological winter is almost a month in – and Minnesotans have been enduring winter weather for several weeks now – winter officially begins at 5:03 p.m. Sunday with the Winter Solstice.

The Winter Solstice occurs when the sun is directly above the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere – its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees, according to TimeandDate.com. It's the longest night of the year for people in the Northern Hemisphere.

The good news is for the next six months the days will gradually get longer as the the Northern Hemisphere begins to tilt back toward the sun, the Washington Post reports.

And with the winter solstice comes some winter weather for Minnesotans.

People in the metro saw a wintry mix Sunday morning and damp conditions are expected to continue throughout the day, but won't likely produce much accumulation in the metro.

However, one to three inches of snow is likely across west central Wisconsin Sunday and a storm system will affect the Twin Cities area Monday into Tuesday night, the National Weather Service says.

An area of low pressure is expected to swoop through the region, bringing some rain and snow. The rain will likely change over to mostly snow by Monday night, with several inches possible across central Minnesota into west central Wisconsin by late Tuesday, the weather service notes.

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Christmas forecast

That same area of low pressure gets stalled out over the Great Lakes through the remainder of next week.

What does that mean? Well, skies are going to be mainly cloudy with several chances of light snow combined with cooling temperatures. No major snowstorms are forecast to hamper travel plans before or on Christmas Day in Minnesota.

So you and the family getting to grandma’s should not be a problem – and Mr. Claus finding your chimney shouldn’t be too tough either.

However, if you're traveling to the East Coast, you may hit a snag with the weather on Christmas Eve, AccuWeather says. A winter storm is threatening two dozen states from Chicago to Boston Tuesday.

The storm is expected to bring strong winds, heavy snow, rain, thunderstorms and fog from the Midwest to the Northeast on Christmas Eve, which will likely create some major delays on the roads at at airports, AccuWeather notes.

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