It looks like Mother Nature may shake up Thanksgiving travel plans on both ends of the holiday.
“We are expecting the first significant winter storm of the year to move into the Twin Cities area on Tuesday evening and impact the area through early Wednesday afternoon,” said Brent Hewett, meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Chanhassen, on Monday, Nov. 25.
A storm system forecast to bring 6 or more inches of snow is expected to arrive in the Twin Cities by about 6 or 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
“Travel is expected to be severely impacted through at least Wednesday morning,” the NWS in the Twin Cities tweeted on Monday morning. “Consider altering your travel plans, if possible.”
“If people have to travel,” Hewett said Monday, “we are urging them to leave tomorrow morning.”
Although snow is expected across the area, the snowfall amounts lessen the farther northwest you are from the Twin Cities.
A winter storm warning has been issued by the National Weather Service for Stearns County and virtually every county in southern and east-central Minnesota, while Douglas, Pope, Stevens and Todd counties are in a winter weather advisory, and Grant and Otter Tail counties are in only a hazardous weather outlook.
For Douglas County, the weather service is forecasting from 2-4 inches of snow, falling mainly after 10 p.m. Tuesday and before 8 a.m. Wednesday. Strong winds of 15-20 mph gusting to 35 will be blowing around the new snow.
The heaviest totals will likely be over eastern and southern Minnesota and into western and northern Wisconsin, according to the forecast. The latest prediction by the weather service for Minneapolis calls for 8-12 inches.
Responses on Twitter were mixed:
People tweeted “DO NOT LIKE” and “Nooo!” But also “Yaaaaay!!” and “I love MN” in response to the tweet.
And another said, “I wish to tender my resignation as a Minnesotan effective the day before Thanksgiving and continuing until the sky is done swearing in the spring!”
Meanwhile, shoppers crowded the aisles at the Cub Foods store on University Avenue in St. Paul on Monday afternoon — many on dual missions of prepping for Thanksgiving Day as well as the first winter storm of the season.
Rachel Brehm, of St. Paul, was there to grab last-minute groceries for her Thanksgiving Day dinner.
She said she completed most of her shopping Saturday and wanted to head to the store closer to Thanksgiving to pick up miscellaneous grocery items, like a roasting pan and spices, but after learning about the snowstorm she decided she needed to expedite her trip.
“Literally, that’s why I’m here,” Brehm said.
The storm is expected to travel through the Twin Cities quickly: “By Wednesday evening,” according to an NWS reply to a question posed on Twitter, “travel should be improving. Snowfall will be over and cleanup should be mostly finished.”
That means traveling on Thanksgiving Day should be improved locally.
But winter weather is expected back sooner rather than later — perhaps to coincide with people’s travel plans home this weekend. This time west-central Minnesota could bear the brunt of it, if temperatures remain cold enough to produce all snow.
This system will be much longer in duration, with snow likely beginning before midnight Thursday and not wrapping up until Sunday morning. It's too early for predictions of how much snow will fall, or even if some of it will be freezing rain, but the likelihood of one or the other is at 80-90 percent all day and night Friday and Saturday. Once again, wind gusts as high as 35 mph will accompany the storm.
Hewett said there’s a chance that the slower-moving system could end up turning to rain in the metro — in the days ahead, stay tuned at Weather.gov/mpx/winter.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation is also preparing for the onset of the wintry weather. Statewide road condition information is available online at 511mn.org.