Although the storm barreling down on Minnesota late Saturday wasn't expected to carry as much snow as the one burying the U.S. Northeast, it could bring 6 to 8 inches of snow to the northern Twin Cities metro area by Monday and 4 to 6 inches in the south metro.

That was Saturday's best estimate from the National Weather Service office in Chanhassen, which cautioned that the forecast was tricky because temperatures will hover around freezing in the metro area early Sunday.

If it gets a little colder, it will mean more snow. If it stays warmer, it will mean more freezing rain and ice pellets and less snow.

Meanwhile, portions of west-central Minnesota may see near-blizzard conditions, with Alexandria expected to get about 11 inches of snow and Fargo-Moorhead forecast to get 10 to 15 inches.

"We aren't going to get 2-foot amounts, but it will be a healthy storm," said Jim Taggart, a meteorologist with the Weather Service. "It's something snowmobilers will like, and it will help out the farmers. We need the moisture."

The Twin Cities area was expected to see a mixture of freezing rain and ice pellets after midnight Saturday, changing over to snow sometime Sunday, Taggart said.

There could be a halt in precipitation in the Twin Cities on Sunday afternoon and early evening, but the snow is expected to redevelop after midnight Sunday.

Light snow will continue to fall through the Monday morning rush hour in the Twin Cities, Taggart said.

"I imagine it is still going to be a mess going to work," he said.

Temperatures will be in the mid-30s Sunday in the southern part of the metro and near freezing in the north metro.

Storm warnings went into effect at midnight Saturday for Ramsey, Hennepin, Washington and Anoka counties, with winter advisories for Scott and Dakota counties.

Snow was beginning to fall Saturday night in west-central Minnesota, including in Montevideo. About 2 inches were expected on the ground in the west-central part of the state by sunrise Sunday. Snow will continue through noon Monday, but it also will grow lighter, starting Sunday night.

Taggart said the main cause of the precipitation is a storm system moving out of the Rockies and pushing across the Great Plains, combining with moisture coming north from the Gulf of Mexico. That will combine with a second disturbance from the Dakotas moving through the state on Sunday and Monday, he said.

Temperatures in the Twin Cities will be "a tad above normal" early in the week, with highs in the upper 20s and low 30s, Taggart said.

But the mercury is expected to fall to below normal by late in the week, with highs in the teens and lows in the single digits.

Randy Furst • 612-673-4224