Valley braces for wintry weekend

Blowing snow, newMuch of eastern and central Minnesota, including the St. Croix Valley, will be under a winter storm watch from Sunday morning through Monday afternoon as a major winter storm is expected to bring freezing rain, snow and wind to much of the state.
Along with the winter storm watch locally, forecast winds of more than 45 mph led the National Weather Service office in Chanhassen to issue a blizzard watch for parts of west-central and southwestern Minnesota.

NWS weather forecasters said the storm is expected to move into the Midwest from the southern Rockies this weekend, spreading precipitation over the area late Saturday through Monday afternoon.

The winter storm watch area is north of a line from Mankato to Eau Claire, Wis., forecasters said.

“A wintery mix is expected across much of southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin on Sunday before transitioning to all snow by Sunday night,” forecasters said. “Snowfall accumulations in this area could range from five to nine inches depending on how quickly it changes to snow.”

Conditions are expected to be worse in parts of western Minnesota, according to forecasters.

“All snow is expected to the north and west across central and west-central Minnesota. Snowfall accumulations there should be considerably higher, ranging from nine to 15 inches,” forecaster said.

As the storm moves out of that region, forecasters warned conditions will worsen due to strong winds.

“As the system begins to lift out, strong winds on the backside of the low will bring widespread blowing snow and blizzard conditions to west-central and southwestern Minnesota,” forecasters said. “Some gusts may exceed 45 mph.”

The weekend forecast for the Valley calls for partly cloud skies tonight with a low near 15. Saturday starts out cloudy and breezy with a high near 35 and south winds 10 to 15 mph, with gusts reaching 25 mph.

A wintery mix of snow, freezing rain and sleet is possible early Sunday morning with less than a half-inch accumulation possible. Lows will fall to the middle 20s. More snow, freezing rain and sleet is forecast Sunday morning before turning to all-snow after noon with heavy snow at times. Accumulations of two to four inches of snow are forecast. Some snow will be driven by east to southeast winds of 10 to 20 mph with gusts reaching 30 mph.

Sunday night sees occasional snow showers, with another two to four inches possible. The low will fall to near 27 with east winds 10 to 15 mph beocming north to northwest after midnight.

Monday will be cold and blustery, with snow showers and areas of blowing snow. A high near 31 is expected along with northwest winds 15 to 20 mph, gusting to 30 mph at times. The snow finally ends Monday night with lows falling to the middle teens and west to northwest winds 10 to 15 mph.

However, NWS forecasters urged residents to monitor weekend forecasts for any changes.

“There are still a lot of uncertainties with this system and even a slight change in track may results in significantly different conditions. It is important to monitor later forecasts,” forecasters said.

Tuesday and Wednesday see sunny to partly cloudy skies and highs in the mid-20s to near 30. The next chance of snow is Valentine’s Day Thursday.