Twin Citians might be able to deep-freeze their turkeys Thursday as temperatures stay cool for the Thanksgiving holiday only to yo-yo throughout the weekend.

While Thanksgiving is predicted to be mostly sunny during the day, high temperatures in the metro are expected to hover around 10 degrees, said Rick Hiltbrand, a meteorologist for the Twin Cities office of the National Weather Service. But that will change over the weekend as Saturday warms up to highs around 40 degrees and then drops down to highs around 20 on Sunday.

“It’s kind of a roller coaster this weekend, up and down,” he said.

Black Friday shoppers in the Twin Cities can expect about an inch of snow Thursday night and half an inch early Friday, Hiltbrand said.

“It just may end up causing some more slick roads again,” he said.

One of the year’s busiest travel days got off to a precarious start Wednesday in and around the Twin Cities, with a few inches of snow arriving just as morning commuters took to the streets along with deeper totals across much of southern Minnesota.

“We had crews up and running early this a.m.,” said Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) spokesman Kevin Gutknecht. “We pre-treat in certain spots. And there is the infamous ‘residual salt’ from the work we did around snow and ice last week. Folks need to slow down. It’s winter, and snow will affect road conditions. Drivers need to account for that.”

Vehicles aplenty were sliding into ditches and spinning out on metro area roads. The worst of it was in the south and southwest metro where MnDOT and the State Patrol responded to many crashes.

As of 4 p.m. Wednesday, the Minnesota State Patrol says troopers have handled nearly 400 crashes and more than 200 spinouts statewide.

Much of southern Minnesota took the brunt of the snowfall Wednesday. The NWS said 11 inches had fallen by Wednesday afternoon to the northwest of Faribault. Winnebago rolled in with 8 inches, Amboy 6 and Milroy in southwestern Minnesota with 6. Closer to the metro, Waconia has so far led the way with 2.5 inches.

“The holidays are a busy time on our Minnesota roadways,” Charlie Zelle, MnDOT commissioner, said in a preholiday statement. “Our plow drivers will do their part to keep our roads safe, but motorists should plan ahead and drive according to the road conditions.”

The Mankato area appeared to be getting a larger dose of snow in the state as of early Wednesday, with 4 to 6 inches already on the ground Wednesday morning in the college town and surrounding communities.

From that area south well into Iowa, a rain and snow mix was in the forecast throughout the afternoon as the temperature teeters above and below freezing. The NWS added that wind gusts topping 20 miles per hour could add to the concerns of drivers heading toward the Des Moines area.

The Duluth area, thanks to moisture being pulled off Lake Superior, was in line for up to a half-foot of snow by the time the first turkey leg is grabbed from the platter.

To the east, travelers from the Twin Cities into Wisconsin and down to Chicago will encounter some snow Wednesday, the NWS reports, but not as much as will have fallen in Minnesota.

At the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, officials are urging travelers to heed their advice and arrive two hours before departure to ensure an unharried walk to the gate.

“So far, we’ve only had a couple of flights canceled and about a dozen delays,” airport spokesman Patrick Hogan said Wednesday morning. Thursday and Friday should also be busy, Hogan added, but “the busiest day of the Thanksgiving travel season will be Sunday, as people try to get home and ready for work or school on Monday.”

However, heavy snow from Washington, D.C., to Boston couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time. The classic nor’easter was bringing rain and snow Wednesday to many heavily populated metro areas. Snow depths could range from 6 to 12 inches, depending on elevation.

Many major airlines are waiving rebooking fees for Wednesday flights involving travel to or from Baltimore, Boston, Hartford, Conn., New York JFK, New York LaGuardia, Newark Liberty, Philadelphia and Washington Reagan National. Travelers are being advised to check with their airline for details.

 

Staff writer Nicole Norfleet and the Associated Press contributed to this report.