Residents in the metro area may not need their snowblowers after all, but the word from the National Weather Service is to stay tuned.

A storm moving into the Upper Midwest Wednesday night and Thursday will produce two bands of heavy snow, but once again it appears the metro area will not be in the bull's-eye. Amounts of 2 to 5 inches are expected along a line from Fergus Falls to Bemidji while 5 to 8 inches are likely in an area from Albert Lea to Red Wing to Rice Lake, Wis., just missing the Twin Cities, said meteorologist Jacob Beitlich with the weather service's Chanhassen office.

"Everything this year seems to be right on the metro area boundary, and as luck would have it this storm is no different," he said.

The Twin Cities along with places such as Mankato, Willmar and St. Cloud could still pick up a dusting to a couple inches, but if the storm shifts even 40 to 50 miles, snowfall amounts anywhere across the state could change drastically. For that reason, a Winter Storm Watch has been issued for most of Minnesota even though few places will see a lot of accumulation.

"There is still potential, but I see lighter amounts trending for the Twin Cities," Beitlich said at midday Tuesday. "It's a low-confidence storm. Stay tuned. If you can hold off on solidifying plans for 24 hours, we will have things pinned down."

To date, the biggest storm in the metro area has been 2.1 inches that fell on Dec. 4, according to the Minnesota State Climatology Office.

Even if the metro dodges a big snow, the weather service is confident that whatever falls could still bring traffic headaches, especially during the Thursday morning rush. Snow is expected to arrive Thursday morning as temperatures fall from the 30s into the 20s and could be in the low teens by noon, meaning anything that falls on roads and sidewalks will freeze fast.

"That could cause travel problems," he said.

Ahead of the storm it will feel more like March than mid-January as temperatures soar into the upper 30s and low 40s Tuesday and into the lower 40s Wednesday. It has not been that warm in the metro area since it was 42 degrees on Dec. 18.

"It's beautiful out there now," Beitlich said.

The respite from the two weeks of subzero lows and single-digit highs won't last long. Behind the storm, temperatures will plummet back below zero Thursday night. By Saturday, low temperatures will be near minus 14 degrees. High temperatures will struggle to reach the single digits above zero Friday through Monday, the weather service said.

Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768