A winter storm will smack the Twin Cities on Monday with heavy snow and strong winds that are expected to hit the south metro and a broad swath of southern Minnesota especially hard.

A dozen school districts in the south metro canceled Monday classes. Many in southern Minnesota and a handful in western Wisconsin followed suit.

For many districts and schools, this is the winter’s first snow day.

“Travel will be very difficult sometime around noon and sending students home early is not a good option,” said Jay Haugen, superintendent of the Farmington district. “Better not to bring them in the first place.”

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Chanhassen is predicting anywhere from a few inches to more than a half-foot of snow to accumulate, likely stretching into the evening commute in the Twin Cities. It will start light in the late morning and become heavier as the day continues.

In south-central and east-central Minnesota, the NWS predicts heavy snow Monday morning, with 8 to 14 inches on the ground by evening.

Zeroing in a little tighter on the Twin Cities area, the NWS is predicting roughly 1 to 3 inches of snow in the northwest metro and 6 to 8 inches in the southeast metro.

One additional ingredient is anticipated to make conditions even more challenging for metro inhabitants.

“Wind gusting as high as 35 mph will cause patchy, blowing and drifting snow,” the NWS said Sunday.

For points south, expect even more snow and more robust winds, according to the NWS.

The NWS statement explains why the blizzard warning is coming into play: “Gusts up to 40 mph during the heavy snow period will lead to blizzard conditions in a portion of south-central Minnesota. Farther east, winds will be in the 20 to 30 mph range and cause patchy blowing and drifting snow.”

Travelers should be prepared for “difficult driving conditions … across central or southern Minnesota and western and northern Wisconsin,” the statement continued. “Driving conditions will deteriorate very rapidly heading east on I-94 or south on I-35 through the Twin Cities Monday.”

Also, the NWS has warned the Albert Lea area to be prepared for freezing rain.

The forecast predicted more than a foot of snow for southern Minnesota by Monday evening, falling in a broad band running from Sioux Falls, S.D., east and north to Mankato, Fairmont, Albert Lea, Rochester, Red Wing and Eau Claire, Wis.

The amount of snow will gradually decrease to the north and west, with just an inch or so in St. Cloud, Hinckley and Duluth.