Despite a slight shift in the forecast late Thursday, Minnesota remained on track for heavy snow and gusty winds on Friday into Saturday.
A winter storm warning will be in effect for much of Minnesota from early Friday until Saturday afternoon, although a bit less snow is expected in the Twin Cities than originally forecast, and the storm’s arrival will be a little later than had been expected, according to the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
Six to 10 inches will blanket the Twin Cities, with up to a foot falling to the west of the metro area and slightly lesser amounts to the south and east. Driving will be difficult, authorities cautioned.
In the metro area, snow will arrive around 1 p.m., the NWS said. It could be heavy at times, falling at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour, and continue overnight before wrapping up for good around midday Saturday.
The storm will move from west to east, with snowfall beginning in late morning to the west and early in the afternoon to the south and east, a slightly later timetable than had been predicted.
Even as snowfall tapers off Saturday, the NWS warned that “gusty northwest winds will likely lead to blowing and drifting snow ... and the potential for blizzard or near-blizzard conditions across western and southern Minnesota.”
On Thursday, temperatures were generally below zero across Minnesota and western Wisconsin.
People across the metro trudged to work or classes amid temperatures of 8 below and colder. Stinging northwest winds made it feel more like 30 below.
Other parts of the state were far colder: It was 33 below in Fosston in northwestern Minnesota. Nowhere in Minnesota could the NWS find a temperature above zero. Winona, in the far southeastern part of the state, came the closest at 2 below.
Once the snow arrives Friday, highs will be around 25, but the wind will make it feel much colder.
Xcel Energy, the state’s dominant provider of electricity, put hundreds of employees on standby ready to restore service. “The heavy snow and wind predicted this weekend can cause power outages,” the utility said in a statement.
Mankato and Marshall were among many school districts announcing Thursday night that school will be called off Friday because of the storm. Others, including Red Wing, said they’ll close three hours early. Minneapolis schools have a previously planned Friday off. As of 8 p.m. Thursday, St. Paul schools had no plans to close.
Up North, snow and a strike
The Duluth area also was in line for heavy snow, with predictions ranging from 4 to 10 inches and winds near 40 mph.
St. Louis County snowplow drivers and other striking public works employees were on picket lines in Duluth, Hibbing, Ely and elsewhere Thursday.
The county is tapping supervisors and licensed operators from other departments to plow during the strike.
A snow-free break for the metro is expected for several days starting Sunday.
Staff writers Paul Walsh, Pamela Miller and Katie Galioto contributed to this report.