MINNEAPOLIS — A broad swath across Minnesota's midsection was gearing up Sunday for its first major winter storm of the season, which could dump more than a foot of snow across parts of the region.
The National Weather Service said the snow was expected to start falling in western Minnesota late Sunday night and make driving difficult for the Monday morning commute in the Twin Cities. And it warned that the drive home Monday evening will be "severely impacted." The snowfall is forecast to be the most intense in the early afternoon in the metro area with snowfall rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour. The Tuesday morning commute could also be difficult.
Andy Lahr, a meteorologist with the weather service office in Chanhassen, said it should be "the most significant fall storm since Halloween in 1991."
Winter storm warnings were out from northern South Dakota starting Sunday evening, then across central Minnesota from early Monday, and on into northern Wisconsin through Tuesday evening. The highest accumulations in Minnesota will be in the eastern part of the state, including the Twin Cities metro area, where total accumulations of 10 to 16 inches are possible. Polk, Barron and Rusk counties of northwestern Wisconsin could see as much as 18 inches of snow, the weather service said. For counties along the Minnesota-Iowa border, snow may mix with sleet to create icy patches.
Hardware, outdoor gear and tire stores reported brisk business this weekend.
"After last year's hard winter, people don't seem to be messing around this year," David Lansing, assistant manager at Frattallone's Ace Hardware in Burnsville, told the Star Tribune. "We're selling a few shovels here and there, but they're mostly going right for the snowblowers."
Delta Air Lines issued a winter weather waiver, allowing travelers to avoid change fees if they reschedule flights that are scheduled for Monday to and from Minneapolis and Rochester in Minnesota, as well as Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Green Bay, Wisconsin. Rebooked trips must begin no later than Wednesday, or a fare difference may apply.
In central Minnesota, St. Cloud State University meteorologist Bon Weisman said it will likely be St. Cloud's biggest November snowfall in 11 years.
"The plows will have a hard time keeping up," Weisman told the St. Cloud Times.