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Button up your overcoat, Santa; cold, snow in Christmas forecast

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WILLMAR — If you procrastinated on completing all those last-minute Christmas errands, be prepared to pay the penalty today: You’ll have to brave bitterly cold wind chills and a winter weather advisory that includes snow in the forecast.

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The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill warning until noon today for much of west central Minnesota. Wind chill readings this morning could reach 35 below to 45 below zero.

The cold is accompanied by a winter weather advisory in effect this afternoon and evening, covering west central and central Minnesota.

The Weather Service said snow is expected to develop today from west to east, reaching Willmar by midday. The snowfall will likely be mild to moderate, lasting much of the afternoon and evening. Accumulations are forecast to reach two to five inches in most locations, with the heaviest amounts expected from near the Minnesota River valley north and eastward.

Predictions call for the snow to end tonight with lingering flurries on Christmas Day.

Forecasters said to expect some blowing and drifting snow as the flurries begin today. Blowing and drifting snow also could become an issue on Christmas as stronger winds develop from the north and northwest.

Blame the subzero cold on an Arctic air mass that is slowly drifting east from the Plains into the Mississippi River Valley. The Weather Service said it’s being followed by an Alberta clipper bringing in the snow.

In spite of the fierce wind chill, actual air temperatures are expected to warm slightly. Today’s high will climb into the teens, and a high of 23 is predicted on Christmas Day. Lows will reach 9 degrees on Christmas Eve and 2 below on Christmas Day.

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