The snowstorm arriving Saturday across much of Minnesota will be less intense than first predicted, but it'll still carry a wallop.
By the time the snow expected to fall through Saturday into early Sunday ebbs, the Twin Cities metro area will have 4 to 8 inches of heavy new snow, down from early forecasts of a foot or more, the National Weather Service in Chanhassen said Friday afternoon.
A winter storm warning remains in effect for much of central, southern and western Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, as well as several counties in western Wisconsin. A winter storm watch was in effect in the far south and east, including the cities of Albert Lea and Rochester.
Weather Service meteorologist Caleb Grunzke said the storm in the metro area will start as a wintry mix, with drizzle freezing and becoming increasingly mixed with snow as the afternoon wears on. The high in the metro area is expected to be 34, which is why there's some uncertainty about what kind of precipitation will fall.
By midnight Saturday, 1 to 3 inches will have fallen in the metro area, with 3 to 5 more inches falling overnight.
The heaviest snow, up to 11 inches, will fall west and north of the metro area, the Weather Service said.
That's less to shovel than had been originally expected, but it'll still be a back-heavy chore. In addition, the heavy, wet snow will "add extra stress to buildings, which could lead to roof collapses," the Weather Service warned.
Travel will be hazardous during and just after the storm, authorities cautioned.
Although winds of 25 to 30 mph — perhaps more in southern and western Minnesota — could lead to patches of blowing snow, Grunzke said the intensity of snowfall during the storm's height will play a larger role in limiting visibility. Snow will fall at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour during that period.
"If you're planning on traveling Saturday afternoon or Saturday evening, I would strongly advise against it," he said.
The weekend storm won't be the end of wintry precipitation for the coming week.
According to the Weather Service, snow and rain are likely Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Highs will range from the upper 20s Sunday and Monday to the upper 30s and lower 40s on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
On the bright side, evenings will have more light this week as daylight saving time begins anew. Remember to set your clocks ahead an hour after 2 a.m. Sunday.
Emma Dill is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.