Ooh boy. Holiday travelers may be in for a mix of snow, rain and ice this week as a major winter storm heads our way.
Trucks were dropping sand and salt across the state on Christmas Day as the National Weather Service forecast 8 to 13 inches of snow across northern, central and western Minnesota between Wednesday and early Friday.
The Twin Cities sits in a band of uncertainty. The storm could bring 1 to 3 inches of snow Wednesday afternoon, which likely would get washed away by a cold, steady rain all day Thursday.
“It’s going to make a mess for a lot of people,” said Christopher O’Brien of the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.
The heaviest snow will likely fall to the north and west of a line from Redwood Falls, St. Cloud and Cambridge.
The big question is how icy things will get before temperatures plummet on Friday.
“That’s when the bottom will drop out,” O’Brien said.
Overnight Friday, temperatures are expected to plunge into the subzero range. On Saturday, statewide highs will be in the teens and single digits.
Crews from St. Paul Public Works began salting the roads Christmas Eve and were expected to work through Wednesday to make sure the streets were ready for the storm, spokeswoman Lisa Hiebert said.
In Minneapolis, crews are “on alert,” said Public Works Director Robin Hutcheson. So far, the city’s laying off ice treatment because forecasts at this time are calling for rain.
“However, things can change rapidly,” Hutcheson said. “If it looks like ice, we can pre-treat streets. We are ready for whatever the storm will bring in the next 24 hours.”
A record-breaking 102 million Americans will travel by car this holiday season, according to AAA. With the storm rolling across the Upper Midwest in the next few days, the Minnesota Department of Transportation suggests that travelers stay attuned to the weather and adjust travel plans if necessary. For current road conditions, call 511 or go to 511mn.org.
“More people choose to travel by their own personal car during the holiday season,” Commissioner Charlie Zelle said in a statement. “With all the vehicles on the roads, it is important that motorists check the road conditions before they head out for their holiday gatherings.”