Get ready to hunker down. Then again and again.
Up to a foot of snow is expected in the Twin Cities starting Friday and continuing into Saturday, sandwiched between two bitterly cold spells.
Six to 12 inches of snow could fall, with gusty winds leading to blowing/drifting snow, according to Mike Griesinger, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
The snowfall is anticipated to arrive by Friday morning in the eastern half of Minnesota and west-central Wisconsin and last through Saturday afternoon, the NWS said. Wind gusts of 35 mph are expected for much of Saturday, the weather service added.
Twin Citians could look north midday Wednesday and get a clue to what they might be in for, according to authorities in Pine County, where "the snow is falling fast and the wind [is] blowing," read a statement from the Sheriff's Office there.
"A major traffic mess" on northbound Interstate 35 between Hinckley and Sandstone had numerous vehicles in the ditch and at least two semitrailer trucks needing tows, the Sheriff's Office statement said.
Sure to feel the effects of the heavy snowfall Friday and Saturday in the metro are several outdoor hockey games as part of a three-day ode to the sport, when Hockey Day Minnesota features contests at Parade Stadium just outside downtown Minneapolis.
Friday evening's twin bill offers a State of Hockey women's all-star game, then an alumni clash featuring former NHL skaters.
On Saturday, two boys high school battles are scheduled: Warroad vs. Minneapolis, followed by Blaine vs. Blake. Then the women take over late in the afternoon, when the Minnesota Gophers host the Ohio State Buckeyes.
The nearby Parade Ice Garden and its two indoor rinks is the "Plan B" should the outdoor ice be deemed unplayable because of snow or cold through the three days of games, said Mike MacMillan, the event's co-chair.
MacMillan said the outdoor rink includes heated benches and locker rooms and that they are "all set for safety reasons."
Robin Smothers, a spokeswoman for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, said her agency's staff is assigned to keep the parking lots, sidewalks and park paths clear of snow, while "volunteers will help clear snow from bleachers and areas around the rink."
As for the rink staying as snow-free as possible before, during and after competition, park board staff will team up with personnel provided by Hockey Day Minnesota, Smothers said.
Sneaking in ahead of the snow Thursday are outdoor games featuring high school girls teams: Holy Angels vs. Minneapolis, then Grand Rapids-Greenway against Blake. That said, a high of 3 degrees and nighttime low of 11 below are forecast.
Once the snow stops falling, forecasters are calling for temperatures to fall anew and stay unseasonably cold for a few days.
Readings should start to head down during the day Saturday and hit a low of 0 Saturday night in the metro area, according to the Weather Service.
Sunday's high might touch 8 above in the metro area; then it's back below zero Sunday night to about 6 below. Monday should be much the same before Tuesday arrives with a high projected at about 8 degrees.
Staff writers David La Vaque and Ryan Faircloth contributed to this report. Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482