Travelers in southern Minnesota braced for a major snowstorm expected to dump anywhere from 6 to 12 inches between Tuesday night and Wednesday.
The National Weather Service on Monday afternoon issued a winter storm warning with a high level of confidence that 6 inches or more of snow will fall Tuesday evening through Wednesday morning across southern Minnesota, the Twin Cities and into west-central Wisconsin.
“Right now it does seem like we will see a decent amount of snow,” said Tyler Hasenstein, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Chanhassen.
The NWS said most of the snow would come in two bursts: between 9 p.m. and midnight Tuesday and 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. Wednesday.
Delta Air Lines on Monday issued a weather waiver for flights to and from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Wednesday. That allows customers to make a one-time change without having to pay a change fee.
The Twin Cities’ last big November snowstorm was on Nov. 13, 2010, when 7.7 inches piled up at MSP, the official weather reporting station for the metro area. In making the prediction for Tuesday’s storm, Hasenstein said forecasters see a “similar setup” in conditions to those that have brought other large November storms.
Maps show the Twin Cities, Faribault and Red Wing are in line for as much as 9 inches by the end of the storm Wednesday. Places such as Redwood Falls, Fairmont, Albert Lea and Mankato could get 8 inches. In Wisconsin, Eau Claire and Rice Lake could pick up 10 inches.
“We are confident that we will have impactful snow,” he said.
Lesser amounts are forecast for places such as Little Falls, St. Cloud, Alexandria and Willmar, where 4 to 7 inches could fall.
The ill-timed storm will adversely affect holiday travel, Hasenstein said. He advised motorists to avoid driving between Tuesday evening and noon Wednesday. If travel is a must, “have an emergency plan,” he said.
With temperatures in the 20s and low 30s, the snow will be full of moisture, not the light fluffy stuff that can be whipped around with strong winds. Still, 35-mph winds could limit visibility and make travel treacherous, he said.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation said it has plenty of salt and 800 plows around the state ready to go, agency spokesman Jake Loesch said Sunday night.
MSP officials said they are ready for whatever nature brings.
“We expect to be fully operational,” airport officials said. “You will want to stay in contact with your airline to verify your flight status.”
The Twin Cities has only seen 1.5 inches of snow so far this month. Normally about 9.3 inches falls in November. The last time the metro saw above-average November snowfall was 2014.
Any significant snow that falls will likely put 2019 in the record book for being the wettest year ever. The Twin Cities is just 0.29 inches of precipitation shy of the record.
In 2016, the record wettest year so far, the Twin Cities saw 40.32 inches of precipitation.
“We may break this in style Tuesday night!” the weather service said on Facebook. “Two, we have the potential to upend our recent trend of rather paltry November snowfall statistics.”
Another snowfall could happen Friday into Saturday, the weather service said.