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As a strong winter storm moves into the upper Midwest, it will bring with it potentially Blizzard conditions to some areas as strong wind combined with snow makes for low visibility and slick roads.
A blizzard warning will go into effect at 12pm for Freeborn, Steele, Hancock, Winnebago, and Worth counties. 3pm for Dodge, Mower, and Olmsted counties. Winter Weather Advisory out for other areas where impacts are expected to be somewhat less. All expire early Thursday morning after the snow moves out. Blizzard warnings are issued when snowfall rates and strong winds will make for especially poor driving conditions as roads become slick and visibility drops as snow gets tossed around.
Wednesday morning will be mostly rainy across the area ahead of the storm as temps remain in the low 40s. The center of the storm moves overhead around noon, and the snow, wind, and bitter cold all quickly move in for the rest of the day.
Around 3 inches will likely fall in Rochester, with upwards of 3 inches in store for places north and west of Rochester and Mason City. 5+ inches are even possible for areas to the northwest including Owatonna, Mankato, and Fairmont. Less falls to the southeast near Charles City.
Strong wind gusts above 45 mph will make for near whiteout conditions as the snow falls during the afternoon and evening hours.
Expect travel to quickly deteriorate during the afternoon hours, with poor travel lasting into Thursday morning as roads in some spots remain slick and snow continues to blow around. Raw temps Thursday morning will be slightly below zero, with wind chills 20+ below zero. It will be a cold Christmas Eve.
And it turns out, a white Christmas is in store after all.