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Patrick Breyer shovels snow Monday from a footpath leading to his sister's home on Trott Avenue Southwest in Willmar. Monday's snow was just the start of a week of winter weather that could deposit up to 20 inches of snow in some places over the next couple of days. Tribune photo by Gary Miller

Major storm bears down on much of Minnesota, S. Dakota

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

Holiday travelers should probably be packing their cars immediately after reading their morning paper today.

The National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, S.D., is calling the impending snowstorm a "once in a quarter century storm" with "life-threatening" travel conditions.

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The hardest-hit area will be eastern South Dakota and southwest Minnesota, where 10 to 20 inches of snow is expected with high winds and poor visibility.

As of Tuesday night, the National Weather Service had issued winter storm warnings taking effect at 3 p.m. today in eastern South Dakota and southwest Minnesota and at 6 p.m. today in parts of west central Minnesota.

Depending on the location, the storm warnings issued Tuesday night were to take effect late tonight or Thursday farther north in the state. The National Weather Service expects dangerous travel conditions over the holidays.

"What we're seeing right now is that the storm is going to be a little stronger than we first thought, and the track will be farther to the west," said Al Voelker, a forecaster at the Weather Service in Grand Forks, N.D.

The snowfall will likely pick up Thursday, but travel could be especially precarious on Friday, when projected winds of 20 to 30 mph out of the north could lead to blowing and drifting snow.

"Travel is going to be hazardous," Voelker said.

Dan Miller, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Duluth, said, "The money time for the heavy snow accumulation, an inch or an inch-and-a-half an hour, will be Christmas Eve night into Christmas morning."

Travel on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be very difficult, "especially to our south and west" Miller said.

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