Minnesotans could be grateful on Thanksgiving for the reprieve from shoveling but should brace for a slushy mess this weekend.

After digging out from Tuesday night's snowstorm — one of the biggest November storms to hit the state in nearly two decades — most of Minnesota will get hit by another winter storm, dropping a mix of rain and snow Friday to Sunday. Most of the state — from Brainerd and St. Cloud to the Twin Cities and Red Wing — is under a winter storm watch starting Friday night.

"It's a fairly large system," said Tyler Hasenstein, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Chanhassen office. "It's probably going to be a mess no matter what."

In the Twin Cities, snowfall is expected to start on Friday night and into Saturday morning before switching over to rainfall and possible thunder around 8 a.m. as the temperature rises, Hasenstein said.

Then, later Saturday, as tens of thousands of fans flock to TCF Bank Stadium for the football game between the Gophers and Badgers, the rainfall in the Twin Cities is predicted to switch back to snow as temperatures fall. The snowfall is expected to continue overnight into Sunday morning, which could snarl weekend traffic as people return home from the holiday.

By the time the storm wraps up Sunday morning, the Twin Cities could get as much as 5 inches of snow, though the intermittent rainfall could eat away much of that accumulation, Hasenstein said.

"It's a very complicated system," he added.

Northern and western Minnesota and northern Wisconsin are expected to get the brunt of the storm's snowfall, with areas north of St. Cloud expected to get 8 to 12 inches of snow, while the southern part of the state, including Mankato and Rochester, may get only rain and drizzle.

With another month to go in 2019, the Twin Cities has already set a record for the wettest year ever. Wednesday also set a record for the most snowfall to fall in the Twin Cities on Nov. 27, with 7.2 inches of snow recorded at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, the Weather Service said, breaking the previous record of 4.9 inches set in 1983.

Also a reminder to travelers and Black Friday shoppers: Minneapolis' snow emergency restrictions and St. Paul's restrictions remain in effect on Friday.

One Black Friday special available to anyone: Every one of Minnesota's 75 state parks and recreation areas will be open free of charge — the fifth year in a row that the state Department of Natural Resources has waived entrance fees for "Free Park Friday" to encourage residents to spend time outside.

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141