Significant winter storm forecast to drop more than a foot of snow in Willmar region


— A significant winter storm is forecast from Tuesday afternoon through Thursday, with the National Weather Service forecasting from 16 to 22 inches in Willmar and the surrounding area.

Travel could be difficult to impossible.

The National Weather Service by 2 p.m. Monday had upgraded the winter storm watch for the southern two-thirds of Minnesota to a

winter storm warning

in several west central and southern Minnesota counties, saying confidence is high that 4 to 7 inches of snow will fall Tuesday afternoon and evening into Wednesday morning with the initial round of snow.

A strong high pressure building over the Canadian Prairies will force a wave of low pressure out of eastern Montana on Tuesday,

according to Stormtracker meteorologist Tim Albertson

. This wave of low pressure will travel eastward and will likely bring snow showers into the region during the late afternoon hours, continuing into the evening and overnight.

As the area of high pressure continues to build, it will force another area of low pressure out of eastern Colorado on Wednesday, Albertson said.

The weather service in its warning said snow will lighten Wednesday morning, but then widespread heavy snow will develop later on Wednesday afternoon as the main storm arrives. This main storm is expected to bring near a foot of snow to most locations.

Overnight temperatures on Wednesday night of around zero will result in a high liquid-to-ice ratio, which means snowfall totals will likely be high, according to Albertson. The steady snow will continue into Thursday before gradually diminishing during the evening hours. A few lingering snow showers will still be possible early Friday morning.

In addition to the snow, windy conditions with gusts up to 50 mph will be possible on Wednesday, Wednesday night and Thursday, causing blowing and drifting snow. The weather service said areas in western and southern Minnesota may see blizzard conditions.